CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has hailed the strength of the Caribbean Community’s unity in the face of adversity brought by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“We reaped the benefits of a CARICOM-wide public health approach which was adopted from the very outbreak of the virus, even before a pandemic was declared,” the Secretary-General said in his End of Year Message for 2020.
“Thanks to the hard work of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), our lead Institution in the sector, other Regional Institutions, the CARICOM Secretariat and health officials across the Community, all under the guidance of the Heads of Government, we were able to avoid the worst effects,” Ambassador LaRocque added.
He said the Community must be thankful that it has been relatively successful in managing the health aspects of the pandemic with 1300 deaths, a comparatively low figure in the global context. He added that the determination of the Governments and peoples not to be throttled by the pandemic was exemplified by the fact that seven Member States and one Associate Member held general elections.
The Secretary-General also highlighted the major step taken earlier this month to enhance the involvement of major stakeholders in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) when he signed an MOU with the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO), through which it joined the Caribbean Congress of Labour as an Associate Institution of the Community.
“These two Organisations along with the representative body for civil society are important voices to be heard in advancing the integration movement, particularly the CSME,” the Secretary-General noted.
The Community, in an effort to facilitate its post-COVID-19 economic recovery has been seeking support from friendly countries for the international financial policy-making bodies to review their eligibility criteria which bar access to development assistance, grants and concessional financing. Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers have been advocating for a Universal Vulnerability Index to be used to determine access.
“These financial resources would be invaluable to assist in recovery from the pandemic, and the continuing battle to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change,” the Secretary-General said.